This article originally appeared in the Spring 2021 edition of Door Industry Journal:
Traffic lights have always been a popular product for IN2 Access. Even before current restrictions, various traffic light models featured regularly on the website’s top sellers. The introduction of social distancing rules last year has seen demand skyrocket not only for lights, but for complete systems to help businesses control the flow of people into and out of businesses.
“Traffic light systems tend to fall into two categories,” says Derek Foreman, Sales & Marketing Director for IN2 Access. “Customers either want a fully automatic system that can switch the lights on their own, or a manually-controlled option where the operator can control the flow of people themselves. We’ve received lots of enquiries for both kinds, and have provided customised solutions of both based on each business’ unique layout or application.”
Automatic Traffic Light Solutions
Pros: no need for staff to monitor traffic flow, system can open and close automatic doors when connected to control panel
Cons: more expensive than manual control systems, may require professional installation
On one end of the spectrum are fully automated systems that switch the traffic light via sensors or cameras. People-Counting systems are popular for entrances with high foot fall areas. IN2 Access’ set up involves connecting an LED red/green traffic light to a bespoke control panel. Customers can then program the maximum number of people allowed into the space. Two sets of photocells mounted on either side of the door monitor when people are entering or exiting, turning the light red or green to indicate if the space has reached maximum capacity.
“This system can work independently or in conjunction with automatic doors,” Derek explains. “It’s ideal for both smaller places (like office canteens) or larger places such as supermarkets or shops. It’s such a flexible solution allowing you to program the number of people you want to enter. Multiple lights and sensors can be set up in cases where there are multiple entrances or one entrance and one exit door.”
A people-counting system that uses a camera instead of photocells to detect people is another popular option. The camera is attached to a computer which then powers a monitor mounted outside the door. The monitor displays how many people are currently in the room as well as maximum capacity. Additionally a custom-message such as “please wait here until someone exits” can be programmed.
“Strictly speaking, this system doesn’t use a traffic light,” Derek says. “But the display monitor gives more information and bespoke messaging – although that limits it’s use to places that are not as exposed to the elements. On the other hand, since a computer powers the system, logging and programming is easier.”
Manually-Controlled Traffic Light Solutions
Pros: less expensive, ability for plug-and-play installation
Cons: requires staff to monitor number of people and control light
“These systems are very popular and amongst our top sellers,” explained Derek. “Their appeal lies in their flexibility, plug-n-play nature, and lower cost than automatic systems.”
IN2 Access’ manually-controlled systems share a common architecture: customer chooses the traffic light, the type of manual controller, wired or wireless options, and connecting cable length.
For wireless control options, the traffic light is connected to a wireless receiver which in turn is connected to a 24v AC adaptor.
The manual controller is the transmitter which can take the form of a physical switch box, simple push button, or remote control. Wired options can be physical switches or button panels. Semi-wireless options include non-contact switches that operate the light wirelessly, but need to be plugged into a power source.
Case Study: No. 1 Wendover, Buckinghamshire
“We’ve provided many of these manually controlled traffic systems and each one is slightly tailored to the specific business,” Derek said.
A recent example is a gift shop in Buckinghamshire called No. 1 Wendover. Owner Claire Randall wanted a cost-effective solution to allow only a certain number of customers into the shop at any given time. As the shop was in a grade listed building, they couldn’t mount the light externally. There are windows on either side of the entrance, but as customers come from both directions, a single light wouldn’t do the trick.
“Since mounting the traffic light in a window or outside on the building was not an option, a bespoke portable stand was the way to go,” Derek said. “We do UV printing as well, so we thought a customised sign around the traffic light with the No 1 logo and message for customers to wait for green added a nice touch.”
The traffic light was controlled via wireless switch from inside with the stand placed just outside the door. The system proved successful over the holiday period when the second lockdown ended.
Claire was pleased with the final product. “It is brilliant!” she says. "The traffic light system was an excellent way of making it really clear for our customers as to whether or not it is safe to enter the shop; everyone commented on what a good idea it is! Thank you very much… I’m one happy customer.”
The shop is currently closed due to the third national lockdown, but are in a great position when restrictions are eased, but most likely with social distancing rules still in place for the foreseeable future.
“I’m glad we were able to find a solution that suited Claire’s specific layout and budget,” Derek concludes. “We all hope for a return to normality but it seems as though restrictions will be eased gradually, so these types of solutions will continue to be popular.”
No 1 Wendover is located at 1 High Street, Wendover, Buckinghamshire, HP22 6DU. Tel: 01296 623150 or visit www.numberonewendover.com
CLICK HERE to see traffic light components and plug-n-play systems.
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